RIM thrives despite sales drop at Verizon

Research In Motion and Verizon Wireless have long enjoyed a close relationship--the nation's largest carrier is widely believed to be the BlackBerry's maker's biggest carrier customer. However, the smartphone maker appears to have done just fine in its fiscal fourth quarter despite a dropoff in sales at Verizon.

Analysts who follow RIM have been worried that the company's reliance on Verizon as a customer could become a major vulnerability as Verizon broadens its smartphone lineup with devices running Google's Android platform and Palm's webOS system. According to RIM's annual filing, though, the company's financials continued to grow as revenue from its largest customer--likely Verizon--declined to 20 percent of overall revenue for all of fiscal 2010, from 25 percent in the first three quarters of the fiscal year.

RIM's fiscal fourth quarter is "a perfect test case of what RIM would look like if Verizon completely stopped selling Blackberrys ... and shows how less reliant RIM is on Verizon and how much RIM has broadened its customer base," Morgan Stanley analyst Ehud Gelblum wrote in a recent recent note.

The BlackBerry maker reported a 13 percent jump in net income in the quarter, up to $710.1 million. And though revenue missed analysts' expectations, RIM's margin was solid and the firm issued guidance at the top of market expectations.

During its quarterly call with analysts, RIM brushed aside concerns of its North American business, noting it added more subscribers in the region in the quarter than in the previous period. "North America is doing very, very well," RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie said during the call, according to Bloomberg. "Don't misconstrue something that shouldn't be misconstrued."

The percent of RIM's revenue generated outside of North America rose to 48 percent in the quarter, up from 37 percent in the fiscal third quarter.

Further, RIM appears poised for a refresh. The company plans to launch a new WebKit-based browser for its devices sometime in the future, and, according to Dow Jones Newswires, it will also release a touchscreen phone with a slide-out keyboard this year.

For more:
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article (sub. req.)

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